Parenting Dad…Happy Father’s Day to Us!

I didn’t realize yesterday was Father’s Day until Facebook let me know! Honestly, what did we do before Facebook? 😛 Not that it made much of a difference once I did know. Have never been one for celebrating ‘Days’. For one it can get expensive 😛 Before you label me an ingrate however, let me assure you that I love my Dad dearly, probably more so now than ever, as the time we have together becomes more finite.

I’ve always been Daddy’s girl 🙂 Mom tells stories of how he doted on me as a child, doing everything he could, even carrying me long distances even when I was 5!! That fact assumes true significance when you know that I was always a ‘healthy’ child 😉 My favorite story is the one in which I’m hurt by broken milk bottles and Dad is telling everyone off 😉 Hearing Mom & Grandma describe it, I imagine the blood gushing from my hands (although the exact details are hazy!), and a river of red all over the kitchen floor where it happened; Mom & Gran having hysterics; and Dad gathering me up in his arms, yelling at them while trying to comfort me and run downstairs to the doctor all at the same time. I like to imagine myself as cool as a cucumber amidst all this chaos! Yeah, yeah…I like to feel important now and again folks, even if it was more than…well, however many decades ago 😉

But I have memories of my own too 🙂 I remember very clearly running up the stairs just after I had got my 10th Grade results. Here in India, 10th Grade is a big deal. It’s the last year of school, after which there’s a public examination (in every State), and one enters college. I had done really well and was among the top 50 students in Goa! I remember feeling nervously proud running up those stairs…wanting desperately to make Dad proud and afraid that I might have still managed to fail him somehow. You know the feeling! I needn’t have worried, as I flung open the terrace door and blurted out my news, the look on his face was everything I’d dreamt of and more 🙂 I remember him hugging me (probably coz we’re not at all a touchy, feely family!) and saying “Well Done!” or ‘Congratulations” or some such. It’s not important what he said. Sometimes I think it’s not even important how he felt. I think the most important feeling that day was how making him proud made me feel! Validated, worthy, proud and loved 🙂 It’s a feeling I’ll cherish forever, one that warms my heart to this day 🙂

Needless to say, I don’t remember Dad ever ticking me off or denying me anything I wanted throughout my childhood within reason. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up thinking I was the center of the universe coz I certainly was the center of his! Or did I 😉 You guys can be the judges of that! There was one occasion though that I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, when I threw a tantrum (I was very big on tantrums! They may be best described as flamboyant if you get my meaning! Much to my Mom’s satisfaction, Ishaan is now paying me back with my own coin so to speak :P), and stamped on his newly polished leather shoes! I got a well-deserved whack for my troubles! Dad was very particular about his appearance. He had a large wardrobe of suits and was always spiffily attired! Debonair is the word that comes to mind 🙂

Dad & I...I was 6.

Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that no matter what I grew up thinking, my Dad is not God. He has his faults and like in all of us, age does nothing to temper them. I’ve also had to come to terms with how much I am like him! It makes me at once very proud and very scared. I’ve inherited his looks, his love for beautiful things; his interest in photography; his generous spirit of giving; his keen intellect and curious nature; his laughter and love of a good joke; his stubbornness; his ego; his love for debate; his mercurial temper and his love for a good drink and junk food 🙂 He’s given me all this and so much more, it’s hard to know where he ends and I begin. And now, when he’s old and tired and spent, I find the roles reversed. I find myself parenting the man who taught me everything I know. I lend him my hands and shoulders for support. I help him find words, find meaning and often himself. I watched like an anxious parent when he took his first unaided steps after the surgery and I still watch him to this day, ready to catch him if he should fall. I buy him the junk food that he once bought me 🙂 and smooth his brow when he’s worried and confused, willing away his troubles, wanting to bear his burdens as he once bore mine. How did it come to this? Perhaps this is the circle of Life…parents’ father children and eventually children father parents.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to say THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU to the BEST Dad I could have had 🙂 and I know that if I can be even a fraction of what he’s been and continues to be to me, we’re going to be Ok.

Love you Daddy! Always will 🙂

The Good Daughter!

That’s me 😉 Or at least was me on Wednesday the 11th of August, my Mom’s B’day 🙂 I was on my best behavior, determined to show her a good time and for once, I didn’t mess it up!

The day began with a sing-song recitation of Happy Birthday by my Dad and I, and the presentation of cards, four in all, for Mother, Daughter, Wife and Granny, one for every role she so faithfully fulfills 24/7. Needless to say, she was touched and over the moon! It didn’t matter that I bought every card and wrote it myself and had my Dad and Granny and son do the honors. Not to her and not to me 🙂

Then the phone calls began and with every call, the smile on her face became wider. I’ve watched my Mom’s smile disappear gradually over the years, to be replaced by a look of constant worry and the strain of nursing a sick child – Life was just too hard and happy moments, hard to come by. But thanks to my son, she is now rediscovering the lost art of the smiling 🙂 I told her of my lunch plans, keeping the Salon visit and surprise party, carefully secret! She had no clue – Mom is not suspicious by nature. She takes people at their word and believes the most far-fetched stories some have fed her 😉 always rising to their defense when they are caught out, a fact that irritates me every time, but proved invaluable in my own happy deception! Lesson learnt – Never underestimate stuff that bugs you! Store it away carefully for future use in tight situations 😛 You never know when it may come handy!

I took her to lunch at an old favorite of mine, a Chinese restaurant, Goenchin. It’s cozy setting was perfect for the intimate tête-à-tête I had in mind. Along with an excellent lunch we made small talk and had bits of serious conversation, about Dad, about the loss of my brother, about Life. I’ll be honest – I was really nervous about this whole day, particularly about spending all that time alone with my Mom! Uh huh! Silly as this may sound – I was scared and nervous about being alone with my Mom. I have good reason to be, given our history – I always screw things up in my inimitable way – saying the wrong thing, turning a discussion into an argument, being judgmental. I didn’t want to ruin this day that I had planned for her and I’m thankful and pretty proud of the fact, that I didn’t!

As lunch drew to a close and we were licking the last bit of ice-cream off our spoons, I revealed the next step of my plan – a visit to the Salon for some good old pampering of those tired fingers and toes! She was pleasantly surprised and watching her face light up – knowing that I made her feel special – that felt good, really good 🙂 So, off to the Salon we went and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! Mom has NEVER had a manicure or pedicure! She never bothered with that kind of thing when she was young and stunningly beautiful (beauty skips generations apparently 😉 although my brother was beautiful!) and never had time for it when she was older, so this was a real treat! It felt good to watch her unwind, as her tired feet were soaked in warm water, their fatigue massaged away by expert hands. In typical Mom fashion, she was initially embarrassed of the condition her hands and feet were in, but that was soon forgotten once the friendly staff began their administrations!

Back home from a well-spent afternoon, she couldn’t stop telling my Granny (who was in on the plan, of course!), how wonderful she felt and how thrilling it was to have a day out with her daughter in all these years. I couldn’t stop smiling either 🙂 She kept worrying about dinner and planning the menu, while Granny & I nodded and encouraged her flights of fancy, stealing amused glances at each other, across the room! At seven, the first guests began to arrive and Mom was in a panic, “What are we going to do! All these people and not a morsel of food in the house! We haven’t even started dinner yet! God help us!” That’s when I decided, to let her in on the final secret – a surprise party with close family, catered to perfection by her favorite caterer! She was unbelieving! She kept saying, “But you didn’t say a word! You didn’t TELL me!” And I kept saying, “That’s why it’s called Surprise, Mom!” It was a hilarious, wonderful evening, with good food and family and happiness all around! A memorable day, in the best possible way 🙂

All through the festivities, I felt my brother’s presence. I could feel his voice in my ear, comforting, whispering, quietly encouraging, “Good Job, Sis! You’re doing Marvelously! Stay cool now!” I know my Mom felt it too – she wears his ring now, on her finger, and she showed it to me on our way home from the Salon. “See, I always have him with me,” she said, “Both my children, close to me.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel, except to say that my eyes are tearing up as I type and my heart is full…full to the brim and overflowing with love and admiration and pride for my Mom and for the woman that she is.

It was the BEST day I’ve had in a long time and certainly the BEST day my Mom and I have shared in many many years. It brought us a tiny bit closer and gave me the confidence I needed to make this a regular event – ‘A Mother-Daughter” day out, once a month where we relax and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company!

Love You Mom!

You Rock my World!

p.s. A big Thank-you to all of you who sent your love and wishes to Mom! You added to her happiness and thanks to you, she is now a little less resentful of all the time her daughter spends glued to the laptop screen 😉

Contemplating Freedom: Part I

Freedom has been on my mind more often this last year than at any other time in my life. Probably ‘coz I feel the lack of it – acutely and painfully, ever since we moved back to live with my parents (I know!) and I became a new Mom – two hugely freedom-sucking events! There are times when I regret both, times when I accept that this is just what I need at the moment, times when I convince myself, ever so fleetingly that this is just a temporary situation. Then there are times when I’m in such sweet denial that all is well with the world; others, when I think eloping with self is the only way to stay sane, when I can’t stand the family, can’t stand myself and can’t stand myself for not being able to love and need the family like ‘normal’, ‘good’ people should. To show you that I’m not a complete people-hating ogre – there are times when I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I like large, open spaces – physically, mentally and spiritually. I cannot stand being caged in, whether by wooden fences or absurd expectations. I’ve been independent in thought and spirit for too long to allow myself to be penned in now. And yet, breaking the shackles of ties that bind and love that suffocates is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Don’t think I’ll ever get it done to be honest. Assertion within family is tough to do – emotional minefields are everywhere and one mis-step can ruin a lifetime of trust and loving. I’ve trampled my fair share of hearts and egos, and the only reason I’m still loved, I gather, is because families are like that – they love and hate, but rarely like. Well, mine’s like that. I love them, deeply from a distance and painfully when near, one of the reasons, my relationship with my Mom was so much better when all we had were weekly long distance phone calls!

Now that we live together, things are different – very different. And to add color, my Granny stays with us, my Mom’s Mom, so we have a definite hierarchy going here and no prizes for guessing who’s at the bottom of this particular ladder 😉 But strangely or perhaps not so strange, my Mom and Gran think they’ve got the worst deal! It could be because I’m short-tempered and impatient and can get real loud and aggressive if I think that’ll help me get my way! It could be because, I’m the intruder into their hitherto safe haven, where they were reigning queens and have managed to upset their carefully balanced apple-cart of housework and daily routine, with my impossible & impractical (or so they say) suggestions for change and betterment. “Who does she think she is? Waltzing in here and thinking she has all the answers and can do everything better?” I can see the thoughts in their heads! Do I learn? Sigh…oh well, all’s fair in love and war 😉 When I was younger and wet behind the ears, I always wondered, why whoever coined that phrase, imagined that love and war would have anything in common. Hah! Now I know!

My Granny is 84, extremely loud and deaf, and uses her high-pitched shrieking (I take after her :P) with devastating effectiveness on my Mom, who as the only soft-spoken one in our little trio, is always at the receiving end of one of our outbursts. Poor Mom! But she’s an ‘enabler’ if ever I saw one. She’s always trying to keep the peace and make the whole world (which in her case is her family) happy, which I’ve tried to tell her is impossible. You know what they say about keeping all of the people happy at all times? Can’t be done and a waste of time to try! Does she listen? Duh! In the process we’re either walking on egg-shells around each other or impersonating screaming banshees (That’s the third time I’ve used that particular phrase to describe us! This is getting serious.). It scares me, ‘coz I’ve begun to believe, this is how it’ll always be (which of course it will, if I don’t do something about it), days of uneasy peace and politeness, followed by edgy days with a definite ‘calm before the storm’ feel, if you get what I mean.

And yet…where else can I find not one, not two but three human beings willing to sacrifice everything and anything to put a smile on my face? Do you see, why I said this was a losing battle? I struggle with wanting what’s best for them (which ideally they should get to decide) and wanting what’s best for me and sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile to the fact that the two are so different. I mean, there’s plenty of love here, maybe too much, maybe it’s getting in the way…my hubby certainly thinks so!

He keeps telling me to stop thinking for them and let them do their own thing, however silly and laborious their attempts may seem to me. I hate admitting he’s right, I do! But he is! I know! I need to learn to let go, to allow them their own space, knowing how fiercely I protect mine. I understand that perfectly in my head and on paper, just not so easily in my heart, especially when I see them cling to old time-consuming routines and energy-sapping superstition; insist on ancient ways of doing things that can now be accomplished by the click of a switch; spend every living moment in the kitchen, and think nothing’s wrong!! If only they would occasionally meet me half-way or even a couple of steps down the road, things would be a lot easier. A lot this, is me trying hard not to disappoint them, ‘coz they’re not easy to please. They would disagree, but I’ve always known my parents to egg me on to do better, without really making a big deal of my successes (which admittedly have been few and far between). I know they’re proud of me, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it once in a while. But there you are, that’s just how the family is, praise is confused with vanity and the good stuff remains unsaid. I should know, I’m no different! But with the arrival of my son, I’m trying hard to be the change I want to see. It’s tough!

I’m making a start of sorts, starting with Mom. Her birthday’s coming up and I’ve made plans for a lunch together (Just the two of us! Can you feel me tremble?!), followed by a manicure and pedicure, and a surprise party at home with a few close relatives. If we don’t strangle each other, I’m planning on making this mother-daughter thing, a regular event, one tiny step at a time 🙂 Heaven knows we both need to find a way to be free with ourselves!

It’s been a long time coming!

p. s. With 15th August fast approaching, freedom and all things freedom-related are on the menu! These are my thoughts. I thought I would start with what I know first – family. Part II on country follows shortly.


Yesterday morning was special…my dad tried his hand at driving again after ages. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time he drove the car, it’s that long ago! He learnt late like me, in his forties and quit when Parkinson’s struck. The tremors made it difficult to change gears and gradually he lost confidence and stopped driving altogether.

So, yesterday morning, when he got into the car and started the engine, we all ran out shocked with surprise! While it’s true that this past year, we’ve managed to get his symptoms under control, we were surprised that he would even want to attempt such a thing! Well, it didn’t stop there. He called out to my Mom and Ishaan and off they all went, chugging hesitantly down the road as my father rediscovered the power in his limbs and the courage in his heart. 🙂 I have no words to describe what I felt then, a combination of pride and joy tinged with trepidation – but all good! Yes indeed, all good! 🙂

They were back in 15 minutes (all of which my Granny spent praying earnestly to every God in her book, to deliver them home safely! So much for confidence in your son-in-law ;-)), my Dad’s face aglow with excitement and a sense of accomplishment. 🙂 He even attempted, successfully albeit haltingly, I might add, to reverse the car back into our garage! We all broke into spontaneous applause when he alighted and it was one of the happiest moments we’ve shared as a family in recent times and one that we will cherish always. 🙂

He may never get back to driving full time, frankly he doesn’t need nor want to, but the occasional drive with Ishaan and Mom will bring them all great joy, I know. 🙂

It’s moments like these that make all the rest of it worth your while…